A new massacre by the Boko Haram in Nigeria has left several hundred people dead. Residents and local officials say dozens of Boko Haram gunmen attacked the northeast town of Gamboru Ngala on Monday. At least 336 people were killed and hundreds of homes and vehicles set on fire. Bodies were still lying in the street two days later. The town sits on the Cameroon border and was reportedly targeted because some residents were assisting the Nigerian army.
News of the latest attack comes amidst global outcry over the Boko Haram’s kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in the same region. On Wednesday, protests continued in the capital Abuja calling on the Nigerian government to step up its search for the missing girls.
Aisha Sa’ad: “I wish, but I think they should do more. I don’t think they are doing enough, but I wish they can do more, but may be something that is beyond their control. So I wish, I hope, I am praying, and please, asking them, please try more, try more and get these girls out, get them out of those monsters, from these monsters’ hands, please. I’m so angry because it’s just too much. It’s too much for a mother to go through this.”
Nigerian police have offered a $300,000 reward for information leading to the girls’ rescue. A video from the Boko Haram this week threatened to sell the girls into captivity amidst rumors that’s already happened. The Boko Haram seized 11 more girls in another kidnapping on Sunday. At a rally outside the Nigerian Consulate in Washington, D.C., Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee addressed reports the kidnapped girls have been sold off for as little as $12.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee: “We are anguished, as mothers, grandmothers and lovers of children, that this is what the children, the girls in Nigeria, are worth. And so our first command and demand is to use all resources to bring the terrorist thug to justice.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on separatists to delay a referendum on breaking off from Ukraine. Areas in eastern Ukraine occupied by pro-Russian forces are set to vote this Sunday on whether to seek autonomy. Amidst continued violence over the past week, Putin called on the separatists to postpone the vote.
Russian President Vladimir Putin: “We call on the representatives of southeastern Ukraine, the supporters of the federalization of the country, to postpone the referendum planned for May 11 this year. Meanwhile, a necessary condition for the start of this dialogue is the unconditional stopping of any violence. Both the use of military force is absolutely unacceptable in the modern world, as is the use of armed illegal units, extremist elements and forces.”
In his comments, Putin also said he has ordered Russian forces to pull back from the Ukrainian border in a bid to defuse tensions. Earlier today, the coordinating committee of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic rejected Putin’s call, saying Sunday’s vote will go ahead.
Cuba has arrested four Miami-based exiles on allegations of plotting anti-government attacks. The Cuban Interior Ministry says the suspects were planning violence against military installations with the goal of fomenting anti-government unrest. Cuba also says the four have ties to Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban exile and former CIA operative behind a 1976 Cubana Airlines bombing that killed 76 people. Carriles currently lives in Miami after beating charges of immigration fraud in 2011. Cuba says it plans to contact the State Department about the new arrests.
The House has advanced a measure that would curb the bulk collection of phone records by the National Security Agency. The USA FREEDOM Act would limit the NSA’s powers to collect phone records on a mass scale, although not entirely. It is co-authored by Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, co-author of the USA PATRIOT Act. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee sent the bill to the House floor with a unanimous 32-to-0 bipartisan vote. It is the first surveillance reform measure to make it out of committee to the House floor.
Federal regulators have tightened the rules for trains carrying crude oil following a spate of accidents and spills. Citing an “imminent” public hazard, the U.S. Department of Transportation says railroads will be required to notify local emergency responders when crude shipments pass through their states. Railroads previously had no such obligations. A train derailment in Virginia last week forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents and spilled oil into the James River, Richmond’s main water supply. It was the second oil train accident by the company CSX this year and the sixth overall in North America since the derailment that killed 47 people in Quebec last July.
Protesters have set up camp outside the Federal Communications Commission in Washington to protest new rules that would effectively abandon net neutrality, the concept of a free and open Internet. The FCC announced last month plans to let Internet providers charge media companies extra fees to receive preferential treatment, such as faster speeds for their products and content. Under previous regulations struck down earlier this year, providers were forced to provide all content at equal speeds. Just steps from the FCC, demonstrators have set up tents and banners reading “Save the Internet.” Organizers of the “People’s Firewall” encampment say they plan to remain until the FCC holds a public hearing next week. They want federal regulators to reclassify broadband service as a public utility, which would allow for the requirement of net neutrality rules.
Fast-food workers have announced a global day of action to push for higher wages and improved workplace rights. The workers will stage a one-day strike at fast-food franchises in 33 countries on six continents, one week from today. It is the latest phase in a movement that began with U.S. workers staging one-day actions for a $15 minimum wage in late 2012. The campaign has received heavy backing from the Service Employees International Union.
A major D.C. law firm has dropped out of a lawsuit against the oil giant Chevron for pollution in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest. Patton Boggs had helped represent a group of indigenous plaintiffs who won a landmark $9 billion judgment in 2011 for widespread contamination resulting from toxic dumping by Texaco, which Chevron later bought. But Chevron sued the victims and their U.S. attorney, accusing them of bribing the judge in the case and presenting fraudulent evidence. Chevron won the lawsuit in March, with a federal judge barring collection of their $9 billion judgment in the United States. On Wednesday, Patton Boggs withdrew from the case after Chevron threatened legal action over the firm’s role in the Amazonians’ case. Patton Boggs has also agreed to pay Chevron $15 million. Bloomberg Businessweek reports the firm’s retreat “is highly unusual and possibly unprecedented.” It could be linked to Patton Boggs’ current effort to merge with a larger firm amidst a series of financial woes.
Pakistan has arrested an FBI agent on charges of trying to bring weapons onto a civilian passenger plane. Joel Cox reportedly tried to board a flight carrying bullets and a knife in his luggage. The arrest has revived memories of Raymond Davis, the CIA agent who shot dead two people in Pakistan in 2011. Davis was released after compensation was paid to the victims’ families.
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